I went to Durham Cathedral recently with a friend and my daughters. I don’t remember having been before. I’m not much of a visitor of buildings. I’m happier in the woods or by the river. Nevertheless, I liked the space, its age, the beautifully carved columns, the heft.
At the east end, there is a tomb with the relics of St Cuthbert (634–687). I went to have a look for interest’s sake, not having much of a devotion to saints. But as I climbed the steps and entered the shrine, I felt a deeper atmosphere, as if stepping into a different realm, and a kind of silence, like a sound-dampening field around the shrine. It reminded me of what I had felt at the tomb of St Francis in Assisi. I would like to go back there.
In front of the tomb was set a prie-dieu, upon which was this prayer for St Cuthbert’s Day:
Almighty God who didst call thy servant Cuthbert from keeping sheep to follow thy Son and to be a shepherd of thy people, mercifully grant that we, following his example and caring for those who are lost, may bring them home to thy fold, through thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen
I think this is a beautiful phrase and sentiment: “that we … caring for those who are lost, may bring them home.” There are many ways to care for the lost and to bring them home. What is your way?
I believe that we are always home, always in God who is always present, always enfolded in love. We are lost to the extent that we do not realise this. What we seek is already here but we keep on searching. That sense, often unconscious, of feeling lost, may lead to behaviours (negative attitudes, addictions, striving to be good enough) that merely serve to increase our distance from home.
What I love about this prayer is that it expresses what I am about in my little way – what spiritual direction is for, and the aim of this writing. I care for those who are “lost” and hope to bring them “home”.